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A network of lakes and rivers, surrounded by lush, colourful scenery

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The Norfolk Broads are a network of lakes and rivers, surrounded by lush, colourful scenery. They meander south, into Suffolk, making up 200 kilometres of waterways overall. Throughout the entire region, the water isn't broken up by a single lock, meaning that you can drift for hours, with nothing to block your path.
The Broads have the same status as a national park, which ensures that the landscape and wildlife are properly protected. The region is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, many of which rank among the rarest in the UK. The various birds and waterfowl are particularly notable, including herons, cormorants, geese, and moorhens.
You can often catch sight of these birds as you set sail along the water. This is the best way to explore, and all sorts of different craft are available, in a multitude of sizes and styles. You'll see quiet fishermen on tiny motor boats, and bigger groups on plush cruisers. You can either hire a boat yourself, or take part in one of the organised tours, which float along some of the most beautiful sections of the rivers. The water is surrounded by greenery, making it easy to forget that there's any such thing as motorways and cities.

Glimpes of the River Bure as you walk along Lower Street to Horning Ferry
The Broads, though, aren't completely devoid of buildings. It can be quite a sight to come across one of the old windmills, gently turning in the wind. During the spring and summer, some of these are open to the public, giving fantastic views over the fields and water.
Norfolk is also home to literally hundreds of churches, generally situated within its beautiful villages and market towns. These small settlements make for great stopping off points in the middle of a cruise, for a drink, or a meal. When you do get hungry, the best places to go are the waterside pubs, serving hearty British food in the most spectacular locations.
Popular towns include Wroxham, which sometimes styles itself as the capital of the Norfolk Broads! It sits rights on top of the River Bure, making this a great place for boat hire, food, or a bit of shopping before you head out on a trip. The town is known for its giant independent shop, "Roy's", which is supposedly the largest village store in the world.

A typical Wroxham scene - feeding the ducks and watching boats trying to moor
Potter Heigham, another boating centre, is a pretty town on the River Thurne. Its main bridge is over 600 years old, with an arch that only clears the water by 7 feet! This makes for a tricky test for most sailors, so a professional bridge pilot is normally on hand, ready to help out. The town is also notable for having several of the very few houses that are allowed to sit directly on the riverbank. The small bungalows are completely inaccessible by road - the only way to reach them is by foot, or by boat.
While the various rivers and waterways are the most popular way to explore the region, the Broads are also covered with hiking trails and cycle paths, many of which follow along the riverside. This can give a different angle on the surroundings, as well as giving the opportunity for some great photographs of the boats drifting past. As well as walkers and cyclists, the water's edge is a common place to see artists, sketching out landscapes, or fishermen, enjoying the peace and quiet.

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